April 2023

Vitamin D Supplements: Who Benefits Most?

Vitamin D remains one of the most talked about nutrients – confusion over which conditions it might and might not help continues to swirl. Much of the confusion relates to whether vitamin D will benefit people who already have adequate levels. Here’s some clarification on recent headlines, as well as a recent notable update to our monograph.

Just in time for spring allergies, new data on vitamin D for allergic rhinitis is available. Previously rated as Insufficient Reliable Evidence to Rate, we’ve bumped it up to Possibly Effective. Early research in adults with vitamin D deficiency has shown that taking vitamin D might improve hay fever symptoms once adequate vitamin D levels are reached. A new study in children now shows that taking vitamin D at doses of 800 IU or 1000 IU daily for 1 to 6 months seems to improve nasal congestion – but it’s not clear if these children were deficient in vitamin D prior to treatment. Information on baseline vitamin D levels is important for determining who may or may not benefit from supplements.

Headlines about vitamin D for prediabetes have also been circulating. Tell patients that this buzz isn’t necessarily warranted – the available evidence hasn’t really changed. In people with prediabetes and low vitamin D levels, taking vitamin D might reduce the risk of developing diabetes. But vitamin D doesn’t seem to benefit people who already have sufficient vitamin D. Similarly, another recent study making headlines focused on vitamin D for suicide prevention. In people with low vitamin D levels, taking vitamin D might reduce the risk for suicide. But it doesn’t seem to offer the same benefit for people who already have sufficient levels.

Continue to remind patients that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is important for overall health. Recommend eating vitamin D-rich foods and spending 15-30 minutes in the sun each day. But help patients understand that in general, taking vitamin D doesn’t seem to offer significant benefits for people who already have adequate levels.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.